AMD consumer vs workstation GPU in Mac? (Eg Vega 64 vs WX9100)  

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Pacinoho
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December 7, 2018 5:19 pm  

I just got my new Mac Mini 2018 and try to decide on which eGPU I should get. I mostly work in video editing and animation field. I came across people comparing the consumer GPUs (eg Vega 64) vs the workstation ones (eg WX 9100). Normally, there are whole list of advantages of the workstation card that justify the higher cost, that includes: 

- AMD technical support

- Pro apps certificates

- profesional driver

- Driver options (pro mode/game mode switch)

- 10bit output

- ECC memory

 

My question is, it seems this list only mostly hold true in Windows. How many of this list actually hold true under Mac? Let’s see...

 

- AMD technical support - you probably can’t get any unless your card is faulty. I try to ask them about application specific questions and they basically say for Mac they don’t support any.

- Pro apps certificate - none in Mac, see https://www.amd.com/en/support/certified-drivers

- Professional driver - since Apple developed the driver, do we really get a significantly different driver for Vega vs WX? My wild guess, correct me if I am wrong, is they have the same architecture, so Apple has no reason to develop different drivers and spend time to optimise for different applications differently. 

- Driver mode option (pro mode/game mode switch) - no such thing in Mac. 

- 10 bit output - this is a tricky one, as I can’t seem to find anything about if Vega 64 can do 10 bit output in Mac. On the other hand, Apple called the iMac Pro GPU a PRO Vega. Is it possible that they actually use the same Pro Vega driver if you use a normal Vega as a eGPU? Does Vega 64 in Mac eGPU support 10 bit render, as it’s possible in iMac Pro?

 

So I mean, what is the advantage of paying more than 3 times the price to go for WX 9100 instead of Vega 64, if I will use only under Mac? The only difference seems to be the 16G ECC memory. Please enlighten me, anything I have missed?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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Pacinoho
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December 11, 2018 3:44 am  

I just read the Apple official product description of the Blackmagic eGPU Pro - which uses a (not pro) Vega 56. While the BM eGPU Pro is overpriced, Apple’s product description gives some insight to what Apple thinks:

“Get workstation-class graphics performance on any Thunderbolt 3–enabled Mac. ...... You’ll be able to run incredibly graphics-intensive workloads that were previously possible only on iMac Pro. “

So Apple actually consider the Vega 56 a workstation-class GPU, and probably runs the same driver as in the Radeon Pro in the iMac Pro. My bet is it actually also support OpenGL 10 bit output, which is not possible with the Windows drivers. (Edit: this is confirmed in email with BM support. They said based on their understanding, the eGPU Pro supports 10 bit OpenGL rendering. )

Please let me know what you think. Am I out of my mind, or is there some truth to what I said above? Anyone compared a Vega to WX in Mac?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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NikosPeri
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January 27, 2019 6:55 pm  

FWIW from a newbie spending more money than sense...
iMac Pro (internal Vega 56) vs iMac Pro running eGPU setup with Radeon Pro WX 9100
Getting HALF the frame rate with the eGPU than the Vega 56.
Would love to understand why?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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wimpzilla
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January 27, 2019 8:09 pm  

Aside what you already posted, the difference between Vega and the Radeon Pro is the ECC memory, needed if you plan to do industrial engineering work.
The WX run pro drivers that are not updated for gaming related stuff, but instead run the certified drivers for scientific/engineering related stuff.
There is no real silicon computing power difference, both share the same average floating point computing power.

So the only difference is the gpu/memory clocks, the kind of memory, the driver used, the WX9100 being usually slower than a basic Vega56.
The only AMD gpu that bump the computing power up are at the moment the MI50/60 with higher FP64 computing capability, something x10 compared to Vega 56.

This post was modified 3 weeks ago

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
E=Mc²


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Pacinoho
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January 28, 2019 3:33 am  

Hi, you said "The WX run pro drivers that are not updated for gaming related stuff, but instead run the certified drivers for scientific/engineering related stuff."

This is precisely my point - it seems that only hold true under Windows. Nothing seems to be certified with the Mac driver.

I do agree - the main difference is the ECC memory.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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wimpzilla
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January 28, 2019 9:03 pm  

I think it really depend which working tools one use and which is the preferred OS for the tool.
The mainstream engineering tools, i suppose, have more follow on windows/linux than MacOs i would say.
Simply because high end machines running windows/linux are far far more powerful computing wise.

So it really depend what the usage is, for sure graphic contents are different than modelling the stages of a turbine.
Also the Pro drivers have a far slower update pace, so when updates come out, i would suppose it match with updates on the same professional tool.
At the end it should not really matter if the developer manage to keep updated its tools over the OS panel.

This post was modified 3 weeks ago

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
E=Mc²


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Pacinoho
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January 29, 2019 6:19 am  

You said "Also the Pro drivers have a far slower update pace, so when updates come out, i would suppose it match with updates on the same professional tool."

Again, this seems only true on Windows. If you read my original post, on Mac I think there is no distinction between pro and game driver. They might have different voltage and clock etc, but the driver itself there is no distinction between Pro and game. For example, Photoshop 30 bit output supposedly (if I am not mistaken) only available on the Pro driver in Windows, but not the case in Mac. On Mac, I can confirm my Vega 64 can do 30 bit output in Photoshop.

So please correct me if I am wrong. Happy to discuss!

This post was modified 3 weeks ago

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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wimpzilla
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January 29, 2019 9:25 am  

Well MacOs is by itself another OS, with its own marketing and professional programs suite.
AMD is an Apple partner, so it happen that some of the features you would find in a Pro driver are enabled on a basic Vega56 instead being limited to the FE or WX.
Because at the end, as said above, the gpu silicon core is the same, what change is the naming scheme.
Maybe Pro drivers have different features enabled that are not the same over the different OS.

But having a certified driver have nothing to do, i think, with enabled feature available in a program.
It is more related to the testing done on the driver, to be sure that your gpu is computing as it supposed to without errors.

This post was modified 3 weeks ago

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
E=Mc²


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